In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in the flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Gradually add milk; bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add asparagus and heat through. Add the cheese, thyme and nutmeg. Cook until cheese is melted, stirring frequently (do not boil). Garnish with croutons and additional cheese if desired. Yield: 6-8 servings (2 quarts).
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